Audi Gives the E-Tron a Sportback Variant
With Audi’s bold plans for 20 new EVs by 2025, it’s probably not much of a surprise that not all of them are entirely different from each other. By that, we mean that some variants are not just likely, but inevitable. The latest, unveiled today the night before the LA auto show is one of those. It’s an e-tron, but this time it’s a Sportback.
Sportback is Audi’s word for a crossover with a swoopy rear, and the e-tron version is no different. Take the front of the electric crossover you already know, then when you get to the B-pillar start drawing a curve instead of a straight line. We’re not going to use the C-word after crossover to describe it, but that’s the word Audi uses. Often.
This one debuts a sweet new set of headlights. Audi’s digital matrix LEDs, which it calls a world-first for a production car. The lighting elements are cut down into tiny pixels, each one able to be aimed and put light exactly where the computer tells it. That’s thanks to a chip that contains one million micromirrors. Each tiny mirror has an edge of just hundredths of a millimeter. That’s not many inches if you’re using standard measure. Each one of those tiny mirrors can be moved 5,000 times a second. Which Audi demonstrated using a cool headlight on a robotic stick.
The e-tron Sportback will come first as a 55-badge model, which means 265 kW and 561 Nm of torque. Or 355 hp and 414 lb-ft. Each axle gets an asynchronous motor and it can hit 62 mph from a stop in 6.6 seconds. All-out it can do 124 mph. There will also be a 50 model with 308 hp and 398 lb-ft as well as a smaller 71 kWh battery pack. The big pack gets a 277-mile WLTP range, with the smaller pack managing an estimated 216 miles. Expect more like the 204 miles the e-tron gets on the EPA cycle here, with maybe a few more miles in the pack thanks to improved aerodynamics. The larger pack can charge at 150 kWh compared with the 120 kWh rate of the smaller version.
Drop the 55 into S mode, floor the hum pedal (it’s not the loud pedal anymore) and you get 402 hp and 490 lb-ft for eight seconds, cutting 0.3 seconds off of that acceleration time. Of course, since this is an Audi, the twin motors deliver all-wheel-drive with a quattro badge.
The big battery pack holds 95 kWh, like its upright brother. It can recoup up to 221 lb-ft and 295 hp of energy during regenerative braking, which is the same as the box-e-tron, and Audi calls it a higher percentage of regen than any other production EV.
Giving the Sportback that sleek roofline cuts into passenger space, but Audi says it’s less than an inch of headroom and that legroom is the same. Luggage capacity is down a bit as well, but it can still hold 58.4 cubic feet with the seats folded.
The rest of the interior is largely the same as the standard e-tron, with features like the 12.1-inch upper screen for the MMI system and a lower 8.6-inch version for entering text or handling the climate control. Audi’s virtual cockpit is also going to be standard kit, using a 12.3-inch screen. An available plus version adds an extra display around the power meter. Audi says it will also allow customers to upgrade the features the car has on-demand after purchase. Though it doesn’t spell out what the customization options will be, the plan is to add different functions for whatever period of time the owner wants to pay for them.
The Sportback will come with a load of Audi driver aid safety features like pre sense basic and pre sense front. There will be a City assist pack that includes intersection assist and rear cross-traffic, plus lane change and exit warnings. The e-tron Sportback will have up to five radar sensors, five cameras, and 12 ultrasonic sensors.
Audi is delivering a special run of edition one models to help launch the Sportback. They’ll get the plasma blue color you see in these photos, an S line interior, and the virtual exterior mirrors that we don’t think you’ll get to see on our roads. The orange calipers are also part of the package along with the exclusive Monaco gray seats.
Right now the model is confirmed to arrive in Europe for Spring 2020, starting from 71,350 euros. That’s nearly $80k, though that price would include European taxes, too, so an actual U.S. price would likely be lower. Why do we bring up a greenback figure if it’s only confirmed for the other side of the pond? Well, Audi debuted this thing in Los Angeles. It’d be a strange move to reveal a car here and then not sell it in the market.
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Evan moved from engineering to automotive journalism 10 years ago (it turns out cars are more interesting than fibreglass pipes), but has been following the auto industry for his entire life. Evan is an award-winning automotive writer and photographer and is the current President of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada. You'll find him behind his keyboard, behind the wheel, or complaining that tiny sports cars are too small for his XXXL frame.
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